Pennyburn Youth Club receives new lease of life
The building is so new, you can still smell the fresh paint.
And the leader in charge of the new look Pennyburn Youth Club, Annemarie Bell, is a woman on a mission.
After a £500,000 refurbishment, the team at the local club have opened their doors for the popular annual Summer Scheme.
The massive overhaul inside the club, which was constructed back in 1975, has been extensive and funding from the Department of Education has totally transformed the building.
The new sports hall has been completely rebuilt, extended and refitted and will now be named the Jack Doran Hall. Normally associated with four-a-side football, the hall can be used for larger sided games and having been fitted out with netball equipment, huge interest has been generated among the club’s female membership.
The communal area has been upgraded; a new health and beauty room installed; office space extended; the kitchen and tuck shop area refitted; a new arts and crafts room built and the centre now has a communal computer area.
However, one of the biggest changes has been the provision of new toilets and shower areas.
“We only had two toilets that could be used,” said Annmarie. “The other toilets and showers have been closed for 18-20 years and were being used for storage. But this transformation with the new areas has been amazing. There were parts of this building that should have been condemned. Some of our guttering pipes were inside and we had water coming down through the walls and in from the floor.”
In fact the work that had to be done in the club was so intensive that the exterior walls of the sports hall had to completely be taken down.
For Annemarie, receiving the keys to the building which has been getting refurbished since last July, marks the beginning of a new chapter for Pennyburn.
“The building was opened back in 1975 and while we’ve been out of the building for almost a year while the work was being done, we have been particularly thankful to the other clubs that adopted us over those months including Shantallow Controlled Youth Club, St Eithne’s and the Cathedral Youth Club.
“Moving forward, Pennyburn Youth Club will be offering that social element with an education programme for young people aged between five and 25.
“We offer courses in health and wellbeing; personal development; anti-racism; anti-suicide; anti-bullying and courses to help build confidence and the self esteem of all our members.
“Two nights a week we also run an inclusive youth club when young people with learning disablities coming together with our members, buddy up and work together.”
As part of the refurb, areas of the building have been named after local people with long associations with the youth club including Jack Doran, Brendan Wilkinson and Paddy Kelly.
Currently the club has nine members of staff and 10 volunteers. Annemarie had a special word of thanks for chairperson Ray McGilloway who she said had been there “every step of the way.”
The Pennyburn YC summer scheme is currently running from Monday - Friday from 12noon-3pm for 5-11 year olds and is open to all areas.